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Love leads Minnesota past New Orleans

Jan 14, 2012 - 4:39 AM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Kevin Love finished with 34 points and 15 rebounds and hit all but one of 18 free throw attempts to carry the Timberwolves over the Hornets, 87-80.

Ricky Rubio, in his first career start, chipped in 12 points and nine assists and hit the go-ahead free throws down the stretch as Minnesota won for the second time in six games. Luke Ridnour added 13 points in the victory.

The Timberwolves shot 33-of-38 (87 percent) from the foul line while the Hornets made only half of their 16 attempts in their eighth loss in nine games.

"You can question calls all day, but that wasn't it," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "I just felt like we didn't trust our defense, and we were grabbing guys instead of moving our feet."

Marco Belinelli had a team-high 20 points for New Orleans, which also got 16 points and 14 rebounds from Emeka Okafor.

New Orleans trailed 63-51 entering the fourth, but suddenly found the hot hand, scoring 12 of the first 17 points to pull within five.

The chipping away continued and things were tied on three occasions, the last coming at 78-all on a Belinelli three-pointer with 2:01 on the clock.

Rubio answered with successful trips to the stripe on the next two possessions, and Love added two more freebies after Jarrett Jack missed a three-pointer.

Greivis Vasquez and Belinelli each missed from long range the next time down, and Minnesota held on from there.

The Hornets never trailed in the first half, leading 21-16 at the end of the first quarter and 38-37 at intermission. Their biggest was eight.

Minnesota put on the clamps in the third quarter, holding the hosts to 6-of-24 shooting to take a double-digit lead. The Timberwolves scored the first nine points in the frame, and a Love jumper in the final minute gave them a 63-49 advantage.

"We did exactly what we wanted to do when we came out in the second half. We felt like we could control the game," Love said.

Game Notes

New Orleans has yet to score 100 points in a game this season...Chris Kaman grabbed nine rebounds for the Hornets but missed all 10 of his attempts from the field...Jack handed out nine assists but was held to eight points.